Thursday, August 31, 2006

It was always inevitable.

Obligatory Apologetic Note (OAN): Third Midwest post still coming...


It was always inevitable. As much as I tried to fight it, and try to avoid it, I knew that I would eventually submit. It was fate, and it was meant to be.

I have become Californian.

I now have an acupuncturist. And the fact of the matter is, it doesn't phase me in the least that I might actually be going down the slippery slope of new age homeopathic flakey Californian. Nope. Going to the acupuncturist seemed completely natural.

I was fairly well grounded before I moved to California. I was a normal everday sort of midwestern boy growing up. Sure I was Asian, and gay, slightly obsessed with musicals, and knew a little bit too much about fashion to be considered average, but on the whole I had that hearty Midwestern attitude, the one that says "if I work hard enough, I'll be able to achieve anything in my life."

I did go through a phase where I became a super Christian (hey, it's was the midwest) where I listened to a lot of Amy Grant (pre-Peter Cetera duet "The Next Time I Fall In Love") and Michael W. Smith ("Friends are Friends Forever....") and went to Asian Christian Summer Camp. But it was a fluke that didn't last (Amy Grant sold out anyway - singing that stupid song Baby Baby... she should be ashamed of herself).

When I first moved to San Francisco though, I was quite fearful that I would turn all flakey new age talk to the trees type. I already knew a little bit too much about the zodiac (I'm a libra) but mostly it was because my friend Lowell was deeply engrossed in it, and it rubbed off on me. It didn't help that pretty much everything Lowell said about libras was textbook me. Apparently us libras are sensitive to the needs of others, and will bend over backwards to help out other, often times to the detriment of ourselves. Or perhaps that's just me, I can't remember.

Regardless I avoided talking too much about the zodiac, other than joking about it with random friends, but then I found myself dating a man who believed it through and through.

I met this man, with my friend Rita at an art school open house. At the time I had a string of really bad dates, and had given all of them nicknames. "Right On Jimmy" was just one of the many that I dated during that time, but he gave me one of my first tastes of what I came to call New Age California Crap.

Right On Jimmy was pretty interesting. He seemed very normal, attractive, well put together, and very gregarious. Rita had invited me to the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) open house (they had bought and revamped a brand new facility in San Francisco and had invited the public to view it - in what turned out to be the "gala event" of the season) where she was to start working under a magazine that they had just acquired - DBR.

The magazine DBR stood for Design Book Review and they...well they reviewed books on design, mostly architectural design. Rita never knew how to properly explain that to people. At cocktail parties people would ask her where she worked, and she would tell them that she was an editor at a magazine called Design Book Review. Inevitably they would ask what the magazine was about, and she'd have to say,..."well, it's a magazine where we review books...on". And then she would feel foolish and they would feel foolish for asking, and the conversation would come to a screeching halt like the needle being pulled off the record player, with that loud scratching noise.

The night started with us walking through the guest line because Rita has VIP passes (something she didn't realize the power of) as the line was at least a 2 hour wait. It degenerated from there as Rita and I were on a roll all night long, witty banter flowing between the two of us like Lauren Graham on crack, making jokes, laughing up a storm and making hilarity ensue with the simpliest of phrases. I have a tendency to talk EXTREMELY LOUD when I am having fun, and pretty much don't realize it. When I talk loud, my voice projects, and the next thing you know, I'm the obnoxious guy at the party or the restaurant that everyone it turning around to look at. Rita and I had developed a code at that evening during one of our numerous witty banter moments, where everytime my voice raised above a certain arbitrary decimal level, she would say "HALFTONE" meaning I should cut my volume in half. It also referenced all the graphic design students work that we were looking at where we were having way too much fun.

It was all much more amusing at that particular moment than it probably sounds. You'll just have to trust Rita and I on that one.

Regardless, we met Right On Jimmy under a poster on display where I was telling people randomly that Rita was the designer of the poster, and I was the model in the poster (you couldn't tell really tell what the model looked like, as the model had fallen into a box). Like I said before, it was all very amusing - to us at least.

And apparently to Right on Jimmy as well. We got to talking and he invited Rita and I to the now defuncct Club Universe (big dance club where all the circuit boys hung out at when they weren't at circuit parties - may it rest in peace) where he was doing a launch party for a CD single by Jeannie Tracey for the record label that he ran. Jeannie Tracey is a disco diva from the 70's that was still around doing dance singles - she's probably most famous for being half of a duo called TWO TONS O' FUN where the other ton was Martha Wash of The Weather Girls "It's Raining Men" fame. At least I think that was her. I might be wrong. Those large African American house divas are all the same to me.

Anyway , turns out, Right on Jimmy was an A-List Gay. I am SO not A-list. This became apparent when we started to date.

A couple of dates in, I had learned a little bit about Right on Jimmy like he was an Aquarius (which apparently was a really good match with Libras - so props to me for being born in October!), that he could read auras, and had done the "The Forum" EST training program.

Jimmy also always constantly used the phrase "Right On" and "Fantastic" over and over. Right On Jimmy sounded better (and funnier) than Fantastic Jimmy as a nickname and so it stuck. It was after an overnight date, he invited me to "church."

Now "church" for Right On Jimmy was not the same as going to church for most people. Right On Jimmy's church was held on Sundays at the Swedish American Hall on Market Street in the Castro and was called "Radiant Light." That should have been enough of a clue that Right On Jimmy and I weren't meant to be.

The Sunday that we went to "church" happened to also be the Sunday of Mother's Day. Radiant Light was to capitalize on this, as I was soon to find out.

I really didn't know what to expect when I went to Radiant Light. I walked in, and it seemed very informal. No one was really dressed up, and in fact, it seemed that there were a number of gay muscle men who had stayed up all night long partying hard at the club (most likely Club Universe) only to come to "church" afterwards.

The first person who got up on stage gave a few announcements, and then proceeded to hand the mike to a man who I assumed was the leader/reverend/priest whatever you call the person in charge who gave the sermon at this "church." He started off by thanking everyone for coming and wanting to acknowledge that he knew how hard it was to get up this early on a Sunday - especially after a night of partying. He then said, he wanted to help WAKE EVERYONE UP and proceeded to pressed the "play" button next to the boombox that I had failed to notice sitting on the floor next to him. The next thing you know, LOUD TRANCE MUSIC filled the room and the entire audience were on their feet raising the roof.

I hate trance music.

Apparently the gay muscle men were still tweaking on crystal because they were the loudest and the most riotous. I half expected them to bust out and start flagging, but the song was only 5 minutes (a short remix, thank goodness) and we all sat down, adrenaline pumping (the dancing probably kicked everyone else adrenaline up a notch, but I think it was pure fear on my part, in terms of "what the hell did I get myself into?" that got my heart racing).

The sermon was about Mother's Day and how to get in touch with your inner mother. I can't really remember much more about the sermon itself (there was a lot of meditating and a lot of visualizing your inner mother and then talking to her as if she was in front of you). It's quite possible I have blocked it out of my memory. However I do remember that after the sermon ended, I thought Radiant Light was over - only to find that there was one more thing the group was to do.

We had to form a Healing Circle.

Now no one explained to me that we were forming the healing circle. Apparently I had missed the memo for it, but the entire congregation formed a circle with our arms wrapped around each other. Long pause where I am confused as to what were were doing (is this a group hug? Will there be some sort of ritual sacrifice in the middle of the room?) and the next thing I know, the woman next to me kissed me on the cheek.


Well, I figure that she was friendly, and I'd much rather get a kiss from her, than see a virgin goat bled to death in the middle of the circle, when I noticed that there were others getting kisses on the cheek.

Confused, I looked around at the other people who were new to this strange cult like activity. They looked equally confused, but a few of them were kissing the cheek of the person next to them as well, in the hopes that this facilitate them getting the hell out of there.

So apparently I had broken the cycle of kissing, because they had to start all over, with the leader kissing the next person, and that person kissing the person next to them. This was the healing circle. One person kissing the next until it had passed all the way around without the circle breaking. You'd think they would have explained that to us newbies, but perhaps that was part of the "healing circle" - perhaps everyone had to figure it out. Or perhaps I had stopped listening to the sermon halfway through when they had me talking to my inner mother. Perhaps my mom's nagging and blatant guilt trips in my head kept me from actually listening to the part in the sermon where they explain that you will be soon kissing a random stranger on the cheek. Either way, I made sure to kiss Right On Jimmy next to me when the woman next to me kissed me and the circle continued until some other confused newbie broke it.

Two or three kisses in, the circle was complete, with everyone figuring it out.

Right on Jimmy didn't work out, and there were many reasons why. He did become the source of many stories (he's the one responsible for me being able to casually use the phrase "well, the time that I was on the porn set...") and I keep on being reminded of him randomly - even now seven years later. Last I heard he had moved to New York, and I've seen him in not one, but two different B-Level gay magazines in the gay papparazzi section (Instinct, and HX) in the past three months. The boy gets around.

After we stopped dating, I met AJ and being from the heartland as well (Indiana) I didn't have to really worry about anything too flakey. At least not from him. We dated for 7 months, and broke up for 5 months (but were best buds during the breakup, with a little sexual tension thrown in all leading to a fateful reunion which is a story for another time) and that's when I had my second face to face encounter with the New Age California Crap which I had been avoiding fastidiously.

AJ had invited me to a theme party (The Dead Celebrity Party! - come dressed up as a dead celebrity). It sounded fun, but I was a little unsure about going, as AJ and I weren't dating and I didn't know how it would be going to the party with him. But then I found out that his ex-wife was going to be there, and well, I had to go and meet her.

I ransacked my closet, and came up with an outfit for the dead guy from Milli Vanilli (a costume I would later recycle with AJ for halloween the following year). The host of the party didn't get my costume ("are you a...pirate?") but everyone else got it immediately, and I was quite the hit (I just figured the host was super drunk). AJ dressed as Oscar Wilde, and we hung out with Kurt Cobain (complete with flannel shirt and bullet wound in the head), Dana Plato - the Diff'rent Strokes child actress that ODed (complete with pills affixed to her face) and Ling Ling the Panda.

Sadly Ling Ling was a great idea, but poor execution. The woman (Nina was her name, if I can recall correctly) had come wearing regular everyday clothes, but had a red and white "hello my name is..." sticker on that she has sharpie-d the name "Ling Ling the panda."

Ling Ling (Nina) was actually pretty cool - or so I thought. We ended up chatting for awhile outside on the patio deck and compared notes about living in the bay area (she had moved up from Southern California) and ex-boyfriends. I told her about AJ who was at the party, and she told me about her ex-boyfriend who she had just broken up. She was a hip cool Asian girl with a sense of style and a sassy attitude, and as I had only a handful of friends in San Francisco, I thought to myself "hey, maybe we could hang out sometime..."

We bonded over the fact that we were both thinking of getting back together with our ex's which is always a little awkward. I told her I wasn't sure, but I might. She told me she's contemplating it as well. "You know, I really think he's changed."

Now, this is usually a really bad sign. When someone says "You know, I really think he's changed..." often you are setting yourself up for heartache. I felt Ling Ling really was heading for the worst. Until I heard why she thought he had changed.

"It was really hard for him to understand me. All the trauma that I've undergone - in my past lives. I mean I have a lot of baggage from those past lives, and he can't deal with it. He just didn't get it. But he's trying so hard now. I mean, I really really think he's changed. He's taken up YOGA for me!"

I love it when people talk about their past lives in a completely non-ironic sense. I get all warm and fuzzy inside. And then I excuse myself and try to walk on the other side of the street whenever I see them.

I "went to the bathroom" shortly afterwards. It's not that I have anything against people who believe in reincarnation, or, for that matter, any other of religious belief (except for Scientologists who really DO scare the bejesus out of me). It's just the way that people seemed to be able to talk about it so casually to a complete stranger. I'm from the midwest - you NEVER talk about religion or politics. But people love to do it in California (talk politics and religion) all the time.

After eight years of living here, I've finally adjusted (I think).

Which comes to me going to an acupuncturist. I was uncertain about going but one of my therapists (one of? Yes, one of...I have three therapist at the moment, but that's a story for another time) suggested it, and I figured, hey, if I have three therapist, why not try acupuncture as well. Especially if your therapist recommends it (damn I must be really stressed if he's suggesting it...)

And you know what? After a few sessions, I sort of like it.

I'm not sure if it is working or not. In fact I don't even know if I believe in it or not. When he sticks the needles in me, and I feel the tiny sharp buzz that is suppose to be him hitting my qi, I sometimes think "well that could be the qi he is hitting - or that could be him just hitting a nerve of mine..."

But I like the fact that I go to an office, and have someone stick needles in me to fix my qi and I'll eventually have an extraordinary sense of "well-being" from it. I like that every time I go, the acupuncturist (a non-judgemental older gay man) asks me how my week was, and I get to relate to him all the things I relate to my other therapists and he sympathetically asks me questions from a competely different perspective.

It's as if I have a FOURTH therapist, but one that will fix things without me having to do the work. I don't have to do the hard thinking, I don't have to explain my fears to him, like I do to my therapists, and have them question me as to why I have those fears, or if I think those fears are there for a reason. In fact, I don't really have to think at all, the needles do the work! And I don't have any responsibility to the problems that I have - I can blame it on my qi!

I love that!

But in the end, even if part of me wonders if the acupuncture is all a bunch of hooey, part of me feels like I am getting something out of it, even if it's not a more balanced qi (whatever that is). Maybe it's the therapy (-ies) or maybe it's the acupuncture, but I am feeling more whole, more grounded. Maybe I am getting in touch with my inner mother. Maybe I'm ready to confront my past lives. I don't know. All I know is that I find myself more able to deal with life and everything it offers.

I'm finally at the stage of my life where I'm willing to admit to myself that I'm scared of certain things. I'm willing to voice concerns over things I'm unhappy about. And I'm willing to accept that there are certain things I can do, and certain things I can not do. But on top of all that, I know that none of these things will kill me. I can be scared of something, but it will no longer paralyze me. I can be unhappy and it won't cripple me. I can get through it all - and I will get through it all.

And that knowledege is worth it's weight in gold.

So now I'm at a critical juncture of my life. The problems that brought me into therapy in the first place haven't changed. But I have. And I no longer feel like the life that I have is going to end. I feel like the life that I don't have yet will begin. And call it what you will - New Age California Crap or just a 30something epiphany, I'm doing my best to face it head on.

I'll be scare. I have and probably will cry from sadness and frustration. I'll probably be hurt and be confused. But I'll deal with that when it comes, just like I've dealt with it in the past. And I know I'll get through it, and I'll be better and stronger while it all happens and when it happens.

But if ever go vegan raw, just bitch slap me. In the meanwhile, I'm going to look into yoga classes....


At 5:57 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Californians as well as Seattleites and Portlanders are always telling me to relax and stop being so judgemental...and I'm like 'shut the fuck up! I am relaxed you douchebag'

Hey....what happened the shaved buttcrack post.....was I hallucinating?

At 3:16 PM, Blogger jackhonky said...

Having been born and raised in the midwest, I would never EVER tell you to relax and stop being judgemental.

I might think it in my head but I'd never voice it to you - that is until I know you more...then I'm all verbal diarrhea about everthing...

Oh and I do believe the shaved buttcrack post was one of your older posts? I never posted anything about my body grooming habits, not to say that I might not in the future...

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous M. E. Kerr said...

Michelle Koh told me about your blog and I enjoy it so much! You're a very good, funny writer. Maybe you should write a book. Anyway, your blog is just another plus of having Michelle for a friend and a webmistress. I'll be reading you. Cheers! M.E. Kerr

At 9:56 PM, Blogger jackhonky said...

Thanks M.E.! I've contemplated writing something more substantial (like a book) - but it never really works out. I started this blog in the hopes that it will jump start me into writing again. I'm glad you've enjoyed it.

Give my love to Michelle! She's faboo.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Rita said...

I like this view of acupuncture! Going in for a tune-up, and it's all mechanical. The guy asks you if anything's wrong and then tinkers with your qi.

That's just like you're Neo in the Matrix, lying on a table with eight billion needles coming out of all his muscles, which have all atrophied, because "you've never used them before."

"Rest, Neo. The answers are coming."


I guess they modeled that scene after acupuncture, didn't they.

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Rita said...

Okay, but what I meant to say was:

YEAHHHHH! That night at CCAC will live in infamy!!

The night you and I walked through swimmy, smokey, individually DJ'ed, green-laser-lit, art-filled rooms all slow-mo and bad-@$$, wishing we were Matrix wearing pleather and boots, both wanting to be Trinity (which is where my Neo reference came from, above).

The night we saw Cirque-du-Soleil-style performers in white bodysuits dangling from long blue curtain strips from the ceiling and decided this, too, would be my future life's ambition, when Damon was a big-time firm attorney and I was a big-time firm attorney's wife (and would answer the door wearing my white bodysuit and too much mascara, all too-thin and heroin chic, offering the guests cheese puffs before scampering up my blue curtain to do tricks, and the clients and partners would all whisper, "What does Damon's wife do, again?" and someone else would hiss, "some kind of artist!").

The night we met Right On Jimmy! Who afterward declared he needed "a Rita in his life!"

The night you pretended you were not only that Banana Republic model that was so hot at the time but also the guy in the art project and that I was the artist, but just for the record, I did not go along with that. Right On Jimmy was like, "Is that you?" (which he'd heard you say) and you said, "Yes. She's the artist!" and I was all, "Oh my God, don't believe him!!" because I thought the real artist was probably rollerskating by.

And then you went on to explain, but I was still afraid the artist was everywhere so I was all, "HALFTONE, Irvin. HALFTONE!!" and Right On Jimmy loved that.

He didn't get it, but he loved it.

And after he left (and before he came right back) you tried to convince me he was hitting on me. But you knew. We had him hooked.

We were so money that night. :D


"Excuse me, there's a line! OH, YOU HAVE A GUEST PASS--I'M SO SORRY!" And she bowed and backed away, waving us in!!

That was the end of us, the rest of that night.

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Rita said...

don't knock our (respective, concurrent, coincidental) Michael W. Smith/Amy Grant phase. I still listen to that "Baby Baby" album (Heart In Motion).


At 4:50 PM, Blogger Billy Farquhar said...

I love the way you tell stories with all of the asides-like Right On Jimmy and the CCAC story and the halftone aside. And I'm glad to hear that you are becoming wiser and better at figuring out how to deal with life's bummers. It's very touching.


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